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Buffalo grass (Paspalum conjugatum)


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Common names 

Buffalo grass, T-grass, carabao grass, sour grass, sour paspalum, cow grass [English]; herbe sure, herbe créole [French]; capim azedo, capim de marreca, capim gordo, capim tê, grama azeda, grama comum [Portuguese]; cañamazo amargo, cambute, pasto amargo [Spanish] 

In Australia, buffalo grass is the common name of Stenotaphrum secundatum.

Related feed(s) 

Buffalo grass (Paspalum conjugatum P. J. Bergius) is a spreading perennial grass with long creeping stolons rooting at the nodes. Culms are red-purple, ascending to erect and 30-60 cm high. Leaf blades are 8-20 cm long x 5-12 mm broad. The leaf sheath and leaves are hairy on the margins. Inflorescence is composed of 2, 7-16 cm long, diverging racemes. Spikelets are solitary with long white hairs on the edges (FAO, 2010; Ecoport, 2010; Manidool, 1992). Buffalo grass is generally used as fresh grass in pastures and cut-and-carry systems, or for hay (FAO, 2010). It is suitable as lawn-grass. It withstands mowing and foot-wear (Burkill, 1985).


Paspalum conjugatum probably originated from the American tropics and is naturalized in almost every tropical and subtropical regions (FAO, 2010). It is commonly found in hot humid areas (river banks, roadsides and disturbed areas) and in open moderately shaded areas (coconut, rubber and oil palm plantations). It can grow on a wide range of soils including acid ones (Manidool, 1992, Stür et al., 1990). It is drought-resistant, remaining green long into the dry season (Burkill, 1985).

Forage management 

Paspalum conjugatum is a natural pasture in coconut plantations where it yields 19 t/ha fresh matter with no fertilizer and up to 30 t/ha with NPK fertilizer (at 310 kg/ha) (FAO, 2010).

Environmental impact 

Paspalum conjugatum may help to control the spread of Imperata cylindrica if the pasture is grazed heavily (FAO, 2010). However, it is also a major weed of rice fields in South and Southeast Asia (Ecoport, 2010). Paspalum conjugatum may invade forest clearings and may impede forest regeneration (Burkill, 1985).

Nutritional aspects
Potential constraints 

It has been reported that young seeds tend to stick in the throats of livestock and choke them (Deshaprabhu, 1966).

It contains a haemostatic glucoside (paspaloside) that reduces the time for blood clotting by 50% (FAO, 2010).


Paspalum conjugatum is considered of low nutritive value in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region (Stür et al., 1990). Its usefulness is limited by its low protein content (6-15% DM) and unpalatability for cattle, though both aspects might be improved by light applications of nitrogen fertilizer (Beetle, 1974). It should be grazed young as palatability declines rapidly after flowering (Chavancy, 1951). Palatability is higher for buffaloes than for cattle (FAO, 2010). As Paspalum conjugatum is tolerant to defoliation it withstands heavy grazing and frequent cuttings. This management regime prevents seed head maturity, the subsequent lowering of nutritive value and promotes faster regrowth of higher quality and palatability (FAO, 2010). When mature the crude fibre content reaches 28% DM in leaves and 40% DM in stems. Organic matter digestibility for a 25 cm high, fresh forage was 65% (Loosli et al., 1954).


In spite of its low palatability, Paspalum conjugatum grazed by dual-purpose cows in a herbaceous and woody pasture was one of the most preferred grasses, together with Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximum), jaragua (Hyparrhenia rufa), toco grass (Ischaemum ciliare) and Paspalum virgatum (Pineda et al., 2009).


Paspalum conjugatum grown under coconut trees in Vanuatu was found to establish easily, to be resistant to grazing and weed invasion, and to maintain its nutritive value throughout growth. Grazed Guinea grass/buffalo grass pastures led to higher coconut yields and were considered to be very suitable for goats (Coulon et al., 1983).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 21.7 3.0 19.0 25.9 4
Crude protein % DM 11.5 3.6 6.1 16.0 13
Crude fibre % DM 30.2 5.2 24.4 40.6 13
NDF % DM 68.1 *
ADF % DM 35.6 *
Lignin % DM 4.4 *
Ether extract % DM 2.4 1.2 1.5 4.9 9
Ash % DM 10.2 3.9 3.8 14.7 13
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.0 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 3.6 1.4 2.1 5.3 6
Phosphorus g/kg DM 3.0 1.9 1.2 6.3 6
Potassium g/kg DM 24.2 6.4 15.9 32.6 6
Sodium g/kg DM 0.2 0.0 0.4 2
Magnesium g/kg DM 4.3 1.5 2.4 6.5 5
Manganese mg/kg DM 133 1
Zinc mg/kg DM 29 1
Copper mg/kg DM 7 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 67.3 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 64.4 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.6 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.3 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 64.7 1

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Chavancy, 1951; CIRAD, 1991; Holm, 1971; Kaligis et al., 1990; Lim Han Kuo, 1967; Loosli et al., 1954

Last updated on 27/11/2012 15:49:17

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Baumont R., 2016. Buffalo grass (Paspalum conjugatum). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/407 Last updated on April 1, 2016, 15:40

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
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